Things get Messi for Iranian lookalike as police rush him to station

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Reza Parastesh, a doppelganger of Barcelona and Argentina’s footballer Lionel Messi, poses for a picture in a street in Tehran on May 8, 2017. (AFP)
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Reza Parastesh, a doppelganger of Barcelona and Argentina’s footballer Lionel Messi, poses for a picture in a street in Tehran on May 8, 2017. (AFP)
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Reza Parastesh, a doppelganger of Barcelona and Argentina’s footballer Lionel Messi, poses for a picture in a street in Tehran on May 8, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 09 May 2017
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Things get Messi for Iranian lookalike as police rush him to station

TEHRAN: Iranian student Reza Parastesh looks so much like his sporting hero Lionel Messi that it almost landed him in jail for disrupting public order this week.
So many people came out to take selfies with Parastesh in the western city of Hamedan over the weekend that police rushed him into a station and impounded his car to stop the chaos and clear traffic.
The resemblance is so uncanny that Eurosport UK reportedly used his photo by accident on Twitter recently when talking about the real Messi.
The furor began a few months ago when Parastesh’s football-mad father pressured the 25-year-old into posing in a number 10 Barcelona jersey and sending the pictures to a sports website.
“I sent them one night and by the morning they had called me and said I should come in quickly for an interview,” he told AFP.
Despite his early reluctance, Parastesh soon grew into his new role, cutting his hair like Messi and often donning the Barca jersey when he goes out.
It has paid off — he is fully booked with media interviews and has even landed modelling contracts.
“Now people really see me as the Iranian Messi and want me to mimic everything he does. When I show up somewhere, people are really shocked,” he said.
Iranians are obsessed with football, and Parastesh finds himself constantly besieged by fans looking for a selfie.
“I’m really happy that seeing me makes them happy and this happiness gives me a lot of energy,” he added.
Parastesh loves football but has never played professionally, though he is working on some tricks so he can better play the role.
He remembers very well the last game between Iran and Argentina during World Cup 2014, when Messi’s 91st-minute goal robbed the Islamic republic of a place in the last 16.
Reza’s dad was furious.
“After the game, my dad called me and said don’t come back home tonight... why did you score a goal against Iran? I said: But that wasn’t me!” Parastesh said, laughing.
His goal now is to meet his hero in Barcelona, and maybe even land a job as his understudy.
“Being the best player in footballing history, he definitely has more work than he can handle. I could be his representative when he is too busy,” he said.


Japan Princess Mako’s boyfriend bids to clear path for wedding

Updated 19 min 23 sec ago
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Japan Princess Mako’s boyfriend bids to clear path for wedding

  • Princess Mako is the eldest daughter of Prince Akishino, Naruhito’s brother, and Princess Kiko
  • The marriage was dramatically called off last February
TOKYO: The boyfriend of Japan’s Princess Mako insisted Tuesday his family had no financial difficulties hanging over them, after reports of a unpaid loan apparently forced a postponement to a fairytale wedding between the two college sweethearts.
Kei Komuro and Mako, the eldest granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, had been scheduled to become formally engaged in a traditional Japanese court ceremony last year before a royal wedding planned in late 2018.
But the marriage was dramatically called off last February amid reports Komuro’s family had run into financial difficulties, with his mother failing to repay a four-million-yen ($36,000) loan from a former fiance of hers.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Komuro said: “My mother and I both understand that the (financial) support from the ex-fiance of my mother has been settled.”
Komuro said that when his mother and her fiance split up in 2012, the man had said the money he had offered them during the engagement did not need to be repaid.
But he changed his tune the year after, according to Komuro, demanding the money back in a letter in August 2013.
Komuro’s mother met her former partner and told him she could not repay the money and there was no further request.
Komuro said he and his mother were then “bewildered” when reports surfaced in December 2017 that the ex-fiance still wanted his cash back, just two months after the royal engagement was announced.
“My mother and I both appreciate the support we received from the former fiance, and we will make efforts to gain understanding from him,” Komuro’s statement concluded.
In February 2018 the pair postponed the wedding until 2020, saying they needed more time to prepare, but rumors swirled in Japanese gossip magazines that there was more to the delay than simple money problems.
“We have come to realize that we do not have enough time to prepare for the ceremonies and our new life before the wedding planned in autumn,” Mako said in a statement released through the imperial household agency at the time.
She said the announcement of their planned engagement was made “too hastily” after the news leaked out.
“We should have thought carefully whether the pace was actually right for us ... Now, we’d like to have the marriage, a major life event, in a better way.”
She apologized to those planning the royal wedding, blaming the couple’s “immaturity.” They are both 27.
Mako’s father Prince Akishino told reporters in November the pair “should take proper measures” if they still hope to get married.
Unless they “clear the problem,” we cannot hold the ritual for a formal engagement, he said.
The Japanese royal family has a packed schedule this year, as the 85-year-old Emperor Akihito abdicates on April 30 — the first time for more than two centuries that a Japanese emperor has stepped down.
His eldest son Naruhito is set to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne a day later.
Mako is the eldest daughter of Prince Akishino, Naruhito’s brother, and Princess Kiko.